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Holmes v. YMCA of Yonkers, Inc.

United States District Court, S.D. New York

January 6, 2020

MICHAEL T. HOLMES, Plaintiff,
v.
YMCA OF YONKERS, INC., and JOHN/JANE DOES A THROUGH D, Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          VINCENT L. BRICCETTI UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Michael T. Holmes brings this action against defendants YMCA of Yonkers, Inc. (“YMCA”), and John and Jane Does, alleging age discrimination in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”), and gender discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”). Plaintiff also brings corresponding state law claims for age and gender discrimination under the New York State Human Rights Law (“NYSHRL”).[1]

         Now pending is YMCA's motion to dismiss the complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6). (Doc. #8).[2]

         For the following reasons, the motion is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART.

         The Court has subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331.

         BACKGROUND

         For the purpose of ruling on the motion to dismiss, the Court accepts as true all well-pleaded factual allegations in the complaint, and draws all reasonable inferences in plaintiff's favor, as summarized below.

         Plaintiff, a 63-year-old African-American man, served as the president and chief executive officer (CEO) for YMCA beginning on November 21, 2016.

         According to the complaint, during that time he “served Defendant with distinction” and “made significant achievements during his short tenure.” (Doc. # 1 (“Compl.”) ¶¶ 18-19). Nonetheless, YMCA's Board of Directors stopped responding to plaintiff after their May 2017 board meeting and began to “back channel communications with current and former staff.” (Id. ¶ 19). Then, on September 21, 2017, without any written warning, notification, or performance-related discipline, or “any justification or reasonable or unreasonable basis, ” plaintiff was terminated. (Id. ¶ 20). Plaintiff alleges in doing so YMCA failed to follow standard practices or its own personnel policy or bylaws, and as of the filing of the complaint plaintiff had not received any explanation or documentation regarding his termination.

         Plaintiff alleges he was replaced by his immediate predecessor, a person he describes as a “far younger and less experienced female, ” and that he had “considerably greater experience in senior level positions with for profit and nonprofit business entities.” (Compl. ¶ 23). Thus, plaintiff asserts YMCA's only potential bases for terminating him were his age, gender, or both.

         Plaintiff filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (the “EEOC”) on May 1, 2018. The EEOC issued a “right-to-sue” letter on October 24, 2018. Plaintiff then filed a complaint with the New York State Division of Human Rights (the “NYSDHR”) on November 20, 2018.

         DISCUSSION

         I. Standard of Review

         In deciding a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the Court evaluates the sufficiency of the operative complaint under the “two-pronged approach” articulated by the Supreme Court in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009).[3] First, a plaintiff's legal conclusions and “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, ” are not entitled to the assumption of truth and are thus not sufficient to withstand a motion to dismiss. Id. at 678; Hayden v. Paterson, 594 F.3d 150, 161 (2d Cir. 2010). Second, “[w]hen there are well-pleaded factual allegations, a court should assume their veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679.

         To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the allegations in the complaint must meet a standard of “plausibility.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678; Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 564 (2007). A claim is facially plausible “when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. “The plausibility standard is not akin to a ‘probability requirement,' but it ...


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